Pan-African Farewell

Is Temple downsizing its connections to the black community?

By Ibram Rogers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted Jul. 9, 2008

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Resigned: Former PASCEP director Yumy Odom says he simply couldn't accept the changes Temple made to his program.

For seven years Yumy Odom regularly put in 80 hours a week as the director of Temple University's storied Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP).

Under Odom's guidance, the 33-year-old program, which was staffed by all volunteer instructors, typically offered more than 80 courses each semester in everything from basic literacy, life skills and college prep to GED, liberal arts and technical education. The classes cost about $20.

PASCEP also facilitated more than 10 outreach programs including rites-of-passage initiatives, tutoring services and prison programs. And it participated in collaborative projects with campus and community organizations.

But this fall Temple relocates PASCEP to the Entertainment and Community Education Center at 1509 Cecil B. Moore.

"The job hasn't even been tiring because I actually liked what I was doing," Odom says. "It was a community program in the real sense. It's what attracted folks when they were just walking past Anderson Hall to come and ask us if there was some special celebration. And we always would say this is regular. This is what we do every Monday through Thursday night."

The celebrations in Anderson Hall--with food, book and jewelry vendors--drew hordes of community residents over the years. Those will end when Temple relocates PASCEP.

Since being told about the relocation six months ago, Odom and others affiliated with PASCEP have been reeling. Advocates of the program recently held a rally at Temple, and a few days later Odom resigned in protest, disgusted not only by Temple forcing the move, but because he wasn't involved in the decision-making process.

"The real tragedy in this is to be treated as if you're not really a person," he says. "No one came to me to consult about anything, and I'm the director."

Odom became involved in the program shortly after moving to Philadelphia from Brooklyn in 1988, when he became an African-American studies grad student at Temple.

"We got off the first floor just to go out the mezzanine area in Gladfelter Hall and there was this program," Odom says. "We just happened to walk up on PASCEP."

The following spring semester he taught his first course in PASCEP, and stayed on as a volunteer instructor until he was hired in 1997 as the assistant director for administration. He took over the program in 2001, and in the last seven years doubled the number of classes and the number of volunteer faculty. He also hired a volunteer registrar, information technology manager and night manager.


L. Harrison Jay, Temple's director of community relations, says there's a two-fold reason for PASCEP's relocation.

"One is that the Community Education Center [CEC] was designed as the link and the portal to community education programs. Second, we've had an increase in our freshman class. The College of Liberal Arts needs that space."

With the move, instead of all of PASCEP's classes being held in Anderson, some classes will be held in the CEC and others will be scattered in other buildings like Pearson and Ritter halls.

"It's like going to college," Jay says. "Most students don't take all their classes in one building throughout their four years attending school. We see it as an actual improvement."

Temple's Black Student Union has officially condemned the move in a letter to Temple University President Ann Weaver Hart. Susan B. Hyatt, a Temple anthropology professor from 1996 to 2004 who also taught PASCEP classes, says she was shocked when she heard about the relocation to what she describes as "inadequate facilities."

PASCEP officials say the new space is a quarter the size of the program's current facility. It has an outdated computer lab, practically no parking and no space for vendors.

"It's really a slap in the face for the black community at a time when the community is under a lot of stress from the pressures of gentrification and other types of economic change," says Hyatt, who's now at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 11 of 11
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1. E2M said... on Jul 10, 2008 at 02:26PM

“First off I'd like to compliment Brother Ibram Rogers for a non-biased well rounded article. All sides were heard from in this piece. I however, am completely biased in favor of PASCEP remaining in it's present form. Reading Mr. Jay's own words reflects what will happen to this program and one the moves major faults; "some classes will be held in the CEC and others will be scattered in other buildings". This "scattered" concept is contradictory to what has made PASCEP a community and family atmosphere and made it possible for entire families to attend seperate classes during any average semester at Anderson hall. The other fact is that the mention of these "other" locations just began in May after PASCEP family members kept reitirating that the 85 or so classes simply wouldn't fit into the 7 or 8 classrooms available at the C.E.C. Throughout this whole process Temple has not been forthcoming with information nor have they been willing to open up two way communications as part of the planning process. The former Director, the volunteer instructors, the students and vendors have all been shut out and ignored during the entire planning process. Temple has talked AT the PASCEP family not WITH the PASCEP family and that is the biggest insult of all. "Dont Move PASCEP! Increase PASCEP!"”

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2. lalaw67 said... on Jul 10, 2008 at 04:40PM

“This is just another step in a new direction backward that the administration at Temple is taking in order to pacify its caucasian student body and effectively change the "face" of the campus community that has thrived with the most integrated population among any college campus in America. We need to move on this latest slap in the face and make sure our established place in North Philadelphia is maintained.”

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3. Observer said... on Jan 22, 2009 at 09:43PM

“Well here we are six months later and PASCEP is beginning it's second semester in it's new location and the reality of it is, it is limping along like an injured mutt. Many of the long time instructors are no longer there. Those who have been disenfranchised by the relocation, refuse to return to the once proud program known as PASCEP. The class rooms are small, window-less cells, there is no lobby for the vendors who once populated Anderson Hall and the teachers continue to strive to educate the community with a shortage of supplies and resources. Before this relocation was done, there were many promises made. Promises of parking for students and instructors (which hasn't materialized), promises of new high quality I.D.'s that would provide access to Temple facilities (current I.D.'s are printed white paper badges with the word "VISITOR" emblazened in black ink). These and many more promises were made and never delivered. Temple University still has a PASCEP program but there's clearly, nothing Pan-African about it.”

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4. marvin said... on Sep 7, 2009 at 08:59PM

“call bill cosby and see what he have to say.”

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5. Robin Banks said... on Dec 11, 2009 at 04:10PM

“I am still interested in the program, I would like to inquire about the new class in winter of 2010 and I wanted to know if the prices will be the same and I wanted to know will there be safe parking and can I have a brochure mailed.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Dec 17, 2009 at 12:15PM

“I have referred several people outside of the Temple community to PASCEP to take classes. I worked at Temple for 15 years before leaving to pursue bigger and better opportunities. I feel that the move to a better location is a great move for the community. Anderson Hall was okay when you had people coming in but to have them spread across the campus says that temple cares about their community and is willing to offer them more. Accept the change and allow PASCEP to grow is what I say.

Yumy talks about "not being treated like a human". Now he know how it feels. He treated Donna the same way he is being treated now. KARMA...”

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7. Damon Bryant said... on Dec 28, 2009 at 03:32PM

“"We Care."”

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8. The JEM said... on Jun 28, 2010 at 08:40PM

“Wow, This Article gave Both Yummy & Harrison a way to verbally express.
Ultimately, this can be worked out. If anybody has been offended, please
forgive and accept sincere apology. Abrasive, arrogrant and unsensitivity
has to be rooted out. In a community based program with Yumy working
so hard for so long.....We acknowledge that and all of the volunter staff.
We apologize for not being more cordial. Harrison view; the Pascep program will propser...But, there is less windows and a smaller rooms. Maybe we can look forward to a even bigger cutural center being built, Yes, just for the surrounding community and everybody...Enough room
for big conference meeting rooms, vendors, class rooms, spaciousness, windows, plants, computer labs., cafeteria. (guest chefs, cooks, ethnics
and of all kinds cuisine) Come on now. Everybody's mouth would drop open in glee and gladness. Rotate Staff, be creative, take respites,etc
We, that is viewing in the realm of human togetherness & respe”

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9. Mr. Yumy Odom said... on Jul 4, 2010 at 09:21AM

“I have not been to this site since my resignation, but was informed by a few folks that there have been a few comments posted here since then.

I want to respond to one comment in particular: "Anonymous" from December 17, 2009.

Ms. "Anonymous" is comparing matters that have nothing in common.

Unless she is going to share all of the personnel and personal issues that she intimates, she should remain silent!

"Karma" had nothing to do with this per se. The issue of Ms. Donna was a TU personnel matter.

The issue of PASCEP and its subsequent monkey-fication is a socio-political matter.

Now, as I told anyone who was genuinely interested in discussing the issues, I do not have any gossip or innuendo. I kept a completely professional record at the University for 20 years, and have all of the documentation, paperwork and photos for anything that I have stated!

Sincerely,

Yumy Odom

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10. Anonymous said... on Sep 4, 2010 at 02:52PM

“I think PASCEP should get grant money to build our own facility, we together can make that happen.”

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11. Yahya Abdulmalik said... on Jun 17, 2014 at 09:06PM

“Yummy Odom, I wish you had of held on at the PASCEP Temple University...

Sincerely,

Yahya Abdulmalik”

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